During the early 90s, Norway set the agenda for the world’s exploding black metal scene, offering a blueprint of extreme sounds, Satanism, medieval imagery, archaic atmospheres and nature-worship.
Mysticum may have shared the aural extremity and the Satanism of their countrymen, but in all other regards they might as well have come from the moon. Shocking audiences and peers alike, their furious black metal was propelled by electronic percussion and revealed a bitterly urban perspective, their industrial imagery and hard drug references (then just as much of a taboo in the scene as the almost-danceable beats) reflecting their hard-living lifestyle./o:p
For some it was all too much, but others, not least Mayhem guitarist and Deathlike Silence Productions owner Euronymous (whose plans to release the group’s debut album was only cut short by his death) recognised the originality and genius at work. Unfortunately, the group’s releases would be almost as rare as they were compelling and their 1996 debut album, In the Streams Of Inferno, would be their last for some years: 18, in fact. Despite announcing the title of the intended follow-up in the sleeve of In The Streams… the band would release only two more tracks before disappearing back to the abyss from whence they came./o:p
Until three years ago. It was late 2011 that the three minds behind the band – the improbably-named Hr. General Cerastes, Svartravn and D.r Best – met once more with the ambitious goal of writing and recording the now near-legendary second album, Planet Satan. Remarkably, this year that goal was achieved and even more impressively the result is something of an industrial black metal masterpiece./o:p
We caught up with guitarist and main vocalist Hr. General Cerastes at his home, the formidable frontman resting, he explained, after “a fearsome weekend”. Clearly some things never change – or do they?/o:p
First of all, congratulations on the stunning new album. It seems fans are still getting their heads around the idea that it has finally been released; did you think the day would ever come?/o:p
Hr. General Cerastes: “It’s surreal actually, but outstanding and satisfying to finally have it materialise and to hold it in my hands after all these years. I think I always felt it would become a reality actually - some years were pretty foggy and cloudy but somewhere in the back of my mind I felt it would be coming at some point. It was a bit later than I expected… but time flies when you are having fun.”/o:p
Aside from Svartravn’s brief appearances with Aborym and Amok you’ve all been quite elusive. Can you tell us what you were up to yourself during those years?/o:p
“I was pretty out there to be honest… I had some addictions and was mainly doing drink and drugs. Pretty far out, maybe not living a decent, proper, productive life. But then six years ago I thought, ‘Okay, I have to get something on the road here’, so I made some plans to get my head above the water.”/o:p
How was it for the three of you to meet and work together again after so many years not playing?/o:p
“It took a while in the beginning, mainly because there was an explosion of ideas - we had to kind of sort out which path to follow and maybe exclude the wilder ones. But I think us three guys clicked together immediately. Everything was the same as before - we met and shared ideas and then all got to work.”/o:p
Was the creation of the album itself as smooth an experience?/o:p
“The main challenges for this album were actually in the studio mixing. There were many many, many, many hours pushing faders and turning knobs. This record is far more complex than Streams, there is not a single drum sample that isn’t overlaid with other samples. Sverre Dæhli from [Norwegian thrash act] Audiopain was our mixer and he didn’t see much sun… we had the best summer ever in Oslo, but he was pale as milk! But he did a great job. As a band we are more efficient now, though it took three years after we met first - that’s a pretty long time to make a record but it’s not a pop album after all.”/o:p
Mysticum are obviously a band that use a lot of electronics in their music – did you find that the technical side of things had changed a lot in the last two decades?/o:p
“Equipment is easier to deal with than in the mid-90s, it’s more user-friendly but also a bit harder to find out how to abuse it to your advantage. But it was very nice to be producing again - there’s actually some really obscure stuff left over and I look forward to implementing that in the new material.”/o:p
Did you have to adjust in any other way, returning to the black metal scene after two decades away?/o:p
“I’m not sure if we have adjusted too much actually apart from of course upgrading our hardware and software. We just keep going as we have done before and we are happy for that. The lifestyle has been toned down a bit; the other two as parents, they have been much more normal in a way but I am still living in my childless environment so I’m still having a good time. But nothing like the old days when it was all crazy – maybe too crazy. It’s a much more chilled out band than before.” /o:p
Satan was as big an ingredient as drugs in the old days – what’s the situation now?/o:p
“We don’t believe in some evil in a flaming Hell, that is for sure. But the idea of Satan from the old days is the opposer, the one that refuses to be suppressed, and that’s something myself and the others concur with; rebelling and refusing any religion or law or any master to obey in this life, the idea of having someone to answer to.”/o:p
What is the next goal now that Planet Satan is a reality?
“We are very eager to make new music and also make live shows and videos. We are gathering forces now to look at how we can create new material as well as having live rehearsals. To perform this music leaves us no option but to give 100 percent, both physically and mentally, and that’s what we aim for. We practiced and trained for this and I think it’s going to blow people away.” /o:p
Check out Mysticum’s Facebook page here.
And order Planet Satan here!